NOTES FROM THE EDITOR (01-21)

Happy New Year, everyone (yes, I know we’re late)!  Welcome to the year-end/new year edition of Jazz History Online. This issue was supposed to be published on December 31, but 2020 had one final trick to pull. I was posting a set of reviews to the site on December 30, and noticed that a number […]

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2020: THE SUMMATION

2020 is FINALLY over! Jazz History Online presents its lists of the best CDs, reissues and books, plus a solemn remembrance of those jazz masters who passed away.

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JAZZ IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 (December 2020)

In a continuing series, Jazz History Online devotes its CD Review section to discs issued during the pandemic. Thomas Cunniffe reviews 6 discs this time, including Dave Douglas’ “Overcome”, Fred Hersch’s “Songs from Home”, Carla Marciano’s “Psychosis”, The Royal Bopsters’ “Party of Four”, Matt Wilson’s “Hug!” and Martin Wind’s “White Noise”.

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NEW MUSIC FROM OLD MASTERS

The four albums spotlighted in this month’s Retro Review offer new insights into the music of Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins. Each recording adds previously unissued music which help to fill gaps in their legacy. Thomas Cunniffe highlights these important recordings.

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HEART FULL OF RHYTHM” (by Ricky Riccardi)

Known amongst his colleagues as “Rickipedia”, Ricky Riccardi is the go-to man for all things pertaining to Louis Armstrong. His first Armstrong biography, “What a Wonderful World” reappraised the jazz icon’s later years (1947-1971). His newest addition is “Heart Full of Rhythm”, which discusses Armstrong’s equally-misunderstood big band era (1929-1947). Thomas Cunniffe’s review of the new book notes that Riccardi has grown as an author and historian since the earlier volume, and that while he has not lost his enthusiasm for his subject, his arguments are guided by scholarship rather than jingoism.

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The 1968 Bill Evans Trio with Eddie Gomez & Jack DeJohnette

For about 6 months in the middle of 1968, pianist Bill Evans led a remarkable trio featuring bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Up until now, the only recordings that existed of this group were the Grammy-winning LP Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival and a handful of bootleg recordings. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe discusses the group’s recordings (including a newly released–and previously unknown studio session) as well as a rare TV broadcast.

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Paul Desmond and the Canadians

In the last decade of his life, Paul Desmond only performed occasionally. But when he hired three exceptional Canadian musicians, (Ed Bickert, Don Thompson and Jerry Fuller) to back him for a club date, the music inspired Desmond to some of his finest performances. After years of legal entanglements, Mosaic Records has issued a 7-CD box which includes over 5 hours of unissued recordings by this outstanding ensemble. In this newly revised Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the musical legacy of Desmond’s Canadian Quartet.

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VERONICA SWIFT: “HER INFINITE VARIETY”

In “Antony and Cleopatra”, Shakespeare wrote, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale, her infinite variety”. The words were originally a tribute to the Egyptian queen, but they have special significance in the career of jazz vocalist Veronica Swift. Thomas Cunniffe explores the music and life of this multi-talented young lady in this JHO Profile.

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Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Such Sweet Thunder”

Newly revised to include the premiere performance in Stratford! In 1956, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn spent a week at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival. Inspired by the performances of the Bard’s plays, Ellington promised that he and Strayhorn would write a new Shakespeare-inspired suite for the next year’s festival. The result was Such Sweet Thunder, one of the most highly acclaimed albums in the Ellington discography. In this Historical Essay, Thomas Cunniffe explores the suite in depth, offering historical and musical background for this important recording. A rare aircheck of the Ellington orchestra performing portions of the suite is also included in this extended article.

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